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Bear is Broken (Leo Maxwell #1)

3.14 of 5 stars 3.14  ·  rating details  ·  485 ratings  ·  117 reviews
Lachlan Smith bursts onto the crime fiction scene with Bear Is Broken, a phenomenal debut that combines the elements of classic PI novels with the contemporary sheen of the best legal thrillers.

Leo Maxwell grew up in the shadow of his older brother, Teddy, a successful yet reviled criminal defense attorney, who racked up enemies as fast as he racked up acquittals. Leo has
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by Mysterious Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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Larry Hoffer
As much as I love reading new books by my favorite authors, I really enjoy finding new writers, new voices to savor. Lachlan Smith is such a find, thanks to a recommendation from Amazon. His first thriller (the start of a series), Bear is Broken, might not break any new ground, but his characters are well-drawn and compelling, and I look forward to reading his future work.

It's 1999 in San Francisco. Leo Maxwell just found out he passed his bar exam. He has always lived in the shadows of his olde
BEAR IS BROKEN. (2013). Lachlan Smith. **.
This is a debut novel from this author from Alabama. He is currently an attorney in the Tuscaloosa area. He has the right credentials as a writer: the Stegner Program at Stanford and a MFA from Cornell. This first novel, however, comes out much like the proverbial camel – a horse designed by a committee. There is an attempt to combine several different sub-genres into one story: the legal thriller, a coming-of-age tale, fantasy, and noir. Some of the ti
Jenny Hilborne
As I read a pre-publication review copy, my full review will be published elsewhere. This is an excellent novel filled with suspense. Definitely recommended.
Probably more deserving of 3 stars, which would be "it was okay" for me but I really can't say I liked this with full conviction. Perhaps I had my hopes set too high, falling for the back cover adverts, yet again. The Library Journal claimed "This engaging debut features well drawn characters and enough plot twists to please any mystery fan." Well, for me, not so much. The only character you get any depth from is Leo, the protagonist, and he just mostly seems to be flailing around, alternating b ...more
Having just passed the bar a few days earlier newly minted lawyer Leo Maxwell expected a routine lunch with his brother Teddy Maxwell. It was 1999 and Teddy was deep in trial and locked into the case. When in trial he always ate at Coruna. That habit meant the shooter knew exactly where Teddy would be when court was in recess and could easily plan the attack. The shooter walked in and briefly stood behind Leo before firing one shot over his shoulder and fired one round directly into Teddy’s head ...more
I'm not generally a reader of mystery novels (in fact, the only ones I'd previously read are the classics by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, and one Janet Evanovich novel which was literally handed to me on a beach). If asked to explain why I've generally eschewed this particular genre, I suppose I would say that I tend to prefer novels that are not just plot-driven; I like stories that are more character-driven, where the central conflict is rooted in complex psychological or moral conce ...more
I really tried to like this debut novel - it's a Good Thing to root for debut authors, don't you think? But I found very little to like: the characters are not only unpleasant but stupid, the plot convoluted and nonsensical, the ending just one of many the author could have chosen. After a while I just didn't care... Why this has already been planned as a sequel is beyond me.
When Leo Maxwell's older brother, Teddy, a vilified criminal defense lawyer, is shot in the head point blank, the list of possible suspects is lengthy. Leo tries to find answers to his questions, but the shooter would rather kill him than be found out.

Since I have been enjoying quite a variety of books lately, I thought I'd try a murder mystery. Everything about this one is excellent....interesting characters, twisting plot, constant suspense, and rapid developments. But it all comes down to the
Laronica Conway
There are a lot of crime/legal thrillers out there and this one falls in the middle of the pack. A young lawyer's brother (also a lawyer) is gunned down in the middle of a crowded restaurant and that act begins a convoluted tail of who killed Teddy. This book starts out with a LOT of promise but it slowly loses its way about mid-way through. The author tried hard to provide lots of odd coincidences and random characters who all, at first, seem unconnected.

We follow Leo, the young lawyer through
Published February 5, 2013 by HighBridge Audio
Read by R.C. Bray
Duration: 8 hours, 10 minutes

Lachlan Smith's debut novel is set in 1999 San Francisco. Leo Maxwell is a newly minted lawyer (less than a week) who was been helping around his brother's law office for the last few months. Teddy Maxwell is one of the most controversial and most successful defense attorneys in San Francisco. His specialty is not high profile clients, but hookers, drug dealers and the like. He is thoroughly hated by the
Gloria Feit
Leo Maxwell has just formally become a member of California State Bar. He is a man who does not think “ethical criminal defense attorney” is an oxymoron, perhaps putting him in the minority, certainly among the San Francisco police and the District Attorney’s office. His older brother, Teddy, is a member of that fraternity, a brilliant lawyer and one of the most sought-after criminal defense attorneys in northern California. As the two men share a lunch while on a break from the trial just neari ...more
Leo Maxwell has just passed the bar exam. His older brother, Teddy, is well known in San Francisco as a successful criminal defense attorney who might cross legal lines to win a case (although Leo doesn't believe it). When Teddy is shot in the head while next to Leo at lunch one day, Leo is devastated. After their father went to prison for murdering their mother, Teddy raised Leo (with the help of a series of housekeepers). However, Teddy kept his emotional distance from Leo and never really let ...more
Dec 18, 2014 Paul marked it as did-not-finish
Shelves: mystery, e-book, fiction, nook
Did not finish, so to be fair, no rating.

I started thinking about reading something else a third of the way into this combo legal thriller & murder mystery, when, after a reasonably decent beginning, the author began to pad the plot with contrived complications. I plowed on out of loyalty to the friend who recommended this book to me, but with a third of the book remaining I couldn't go on; I was no longer interested in what might happen, either with the unsolved mystery or with the increasi
Simon Mcleish
Bear is Broken starts off really well, if rather derivatively. (It reminded me very strongly of Michael Connelly's Mickey Haller novels.) It dips rather in the middle and never really recovers, with the viewpoint character trying to investigate the shooting of his brother flailing around like a loose cannon as he blunders into one accusation after another. There is little characterisation, except of the viewpoint character, and he isn't really very interesting.
#1 in the Leo Maxwell series. 2014 Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel. I struggled my way through this novel, hoping that at some point I would discover why it had won the 2014 Shamus Award. Leo's widely detested brother Teddy is shot in the head while lunching with Leo. The shooter escapes and Leo decides to look into the case. Leo is a newly minted lawyer who looks forward to a career defending low level drug dealers and hookers and he may be the most likeable person in the book. His brother ...more
Mark Shannon
Just days after passing the bar and several months into a stint shadowing his highly successful defense attorney brother, Leo Maxwell is horrified to realize as this book opens that someone has just shot said brother as the two men were eating lunch. The detective on the case is only too happy to see the attorney almost killed--after all he spent his career ensuring that the guilty go free. The attorney's secretary leaves the office after confronting Leo for suspecting that a client of his broth ...more
Jay Phillippi
Leo Maxwell lives in the shadow of his older brother Danny, the most successful and possibly most hated defense attorney in the San Francisco area, and his father, currently serving a life sentence for the murder of their mother. In both cases he both loves and hates what passes for his family. When Danny is murdered Leo will have to step out of his role as "Monkey Boy" and try to solve mysteries that suddenly make up his life.

I'll give Smith this - I've read much worse debut novels. In fact I'v
This debut mystery by Lachlan Smith was a Free Friday selection for Nook by B&N a couple of weeks ago and I figured I had nothing to lose by downloading it. I'm happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised by this very satisfying first novel. If your tastes run toward hard-boiled detective fiction with "noir" styling, this would be a welcome addition to anyone's TBR shelf. Shortly after passing his California Bar Exam, Leo Maxwell finds himself in a deadly investigation of the attempted m ...more
Andy Plonka
There's a lot more to trhis slim volume than a mystery to be solved. The main protagonist, Leo Maxwell, 10 years younger than his brother, Teddy, has recenlt passed his bar exam and is learning the legal system from him. Teddy defends some dubious characters so it really isn't totally inexplicable when he is shot in the head at a restaurant across the table from Leo. What happens nextis as much a study in human behavior as it is a crime story.
Excellent debut novel. Deep plot and good character development. At times, the author has you running in circles guessing whom the killer is, and can get a bit overwhelming for no apparent reason but to keep you confused. But definitely an author to watch for in the future! Haven't read a legal thriller I thoroughly enjoyed this much in the past year. Recommended!
Elaine Mulligan
Beautiful writing
San Francisco 1999, Leo is fresh out of Law School and has just passed is bar exam. Having lunch with his big brother Teddy, the famous and loathed criminal defense attorney, when from something out of the Godfather Teddy is shot in the head.

Teddy survives but is in a coma. To Young Leo a dump truck of professional and personal work and emotions is dumped on him. The discoveries he makes about who his brother is when he is not being Leo's brother makes Leo's head spin.

Not only
Alafair Burke
What I said: ""Lachlan Smith brings the culture of the courthouse and the complicated relationship between two brothers to life in this excellent debut."
Al Stoess
Aug 04, 2015 Al Stoess rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
Not much. Sorry I read it. Did not make a great deal of sense. Convoluted. Strange characters.

Skimmed again in August 2015.
I was a bit shocked with how this one opened up with the scene at lunch. It seemed like Leo changed so much after this and I'm not sure if it is was a good thing or not. Leo definitely needed to get out from under Teddy, but it seemed like he crossed so many lines seeking out the truth. Leo put to bed quite a few ghosts, but the cost seemed to come at the price of Leo loosing part of himself. I was surprised at the end with how things went down, with who was the bad guy and how everyone was hidi ...more
Another great read. I read Lion Plays Rough and enjoyed it so much that I grabbed this one to read also. It takes place before the other book and helped me get more of an understanding of the characters. However, I'm now confused about the story of the mother's killer, as this book seemed to wrap everything up. the other book seemed to imply that the search was still on. At any rate, I really enjoyed the book. It starts with one brother getting shot, and the other brother works to try to track f ...more
I love a good legal thriller, so I couldn’t resist this book. The book is generally well written with interesting characters and more than its fair share of plot twists and turns. However, the pacing seemed a bit slow at times and I got lost a few times in some of those twists and turns and had to skim back when things later on didn’t make sense. The ending also left me somewhat unsatisfied, but I tend to have the problem with many books and movies. Overall, it’s an excellent book, but very far ...more
Elaine Mulligan
Beautiful writing, San Francisco 1999, Leo is fresh out of Law School and has just passed is bar exam. Having lunch with his big brother Teddy, the famous and loathed criminal defense attorney, when from something out of the Godfather Teddy is shot in the head.

Teddy survives but is in a coma. To Young Leo a dump truck of professional and personal work and emotions is dumped on him. The discoveries he makes about who his brother is when he is not being Leo's brother makes Leo's head spin.

Not onl
Leo Maxwell has been a lawyer for less than a month when his sleazily effective older brother, a criminal lawyer who makes the cops look bad, is shot in the head while the two eat lunch together. The brother ends up in what looks like an irreversible coma, mourned only by his ex-wife and by Leo, who vows to take over his practice and find the shooter. To complicate matters, the father of both young men is serving a life term in prison for killiing their mother years earlier. Leo gets caught up i ...more
Shelly Itkin
This is a great book. It is never easy to grow up in the shadow of your older brother but Leo, who is 12 years younger then Teddy, his older brother is doing just that. Teddy is a successful attorney who handles cases that are not always easy as they are mostly criminal cases. He has made a name for himself and Leo is shadowing him until his notice of passing the bar comes thru.

When Leo does finally get word he passed Teddy says let’s go to lunch but not a congratulations one just a regular lunc
Luanne Ollivier
3.5/5 I enjoy a good legal thriller and it's always fun to discover a new character. Bear is Broken is Lachlan Smith's debut novel. And who better to pen a legal thriller than a lawyer himself!

Leo Maxwell was raised by his older brother Teddy - a successful criminal defense lawyer. Successful in the eyes of his clients, but the cops and prosecutors aren't big fans. Leo himself has just passed the bar exam. The two brothers are out for lunch when an unknown assailant walks in and shoots Teddy poi
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